As children, hearing our mother tell us that company's coming was always a double-edged message. "Company" pointed to a happy time that included laughter, gifts, surprises, and all the things that disrupted our humdrum, Pennsylvania steel town existence. It meant that friends, or other family members would shortly interpose upon the life of our family. Now, while there were family members who visited on a regular basis, and this is in no means to diminish them, they weren't company. Company, consisted of Family who lived out of state, or even the aunt & uncle who were visiting from Ireland. These constituted company, and their arrival was a time for excitement.
When our mom's declared company was coming, it was in a statement that rarely ended is a period, it ended in a semicolon where the following statement went something like "and this house is a mess!" In our minds, mom was violating a chorus of child labor laws as we were suddenly picking up our toys, cleaning our rooms, sweeping floors or other monumental labors. All the while, mom took on her own chores. In the end, the house sparkled, company came, and a good time was enjoyed by all.
At the heart of the Old Testament, was the message that "company is coming". Throughout the Old Testament, the Prophets pointed to the promised Messiah. Prophets like Isaiah who declared in a loud voice:
Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned, that she has received from the LORD's hand double for all her sins. A voice cries: "In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Isa 40:1-3 ESV
Or there was the Prophet Micah who in an even clearer voice declared the place where the Messiah would be born, in a prophecy that all but zeroed in on the natal zip code:
But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days. Mic 5:2 ESV
Throughout, these messengers exhorted the people of Israel to prepare themselves to welcome their coming King. This King did come on a silent night, witnessed by few. While his incarnation was mostly missed by many, this King promised to return, and that return will be seen by all. Each Sunday, we declare this when we proclaim the Mystery of Faith:
Christ has died,
Christ has risen,
Christ will come again!
Today in this Advent season, God's people are being called to a time of preparation and examination. While we commemorate our Lord's first coming, we also watch, wait and prepare ourselves for that moment when He will come again. This short season in our Liturgical year gives us space for reflection, and to consider how our heart's might be made ready for coming company.
This Advent season, let or heart's echo the words of the Prophet, who declared:
A voice cries: "In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Isa 40:3 ESV